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Dentists screen 1,300 Yukon and Piedmont students

Students in Cheryl Drake’s first-grade classroom at Skyview Elementary School on Tuesday eagerly cooperate as orthodontist Dr. Kolton Erickson checks their teeth as part of a dental screening program conducted by the Yukon Dental Association. Photo / Chris Eversole

In 1975, Dr. David Deason was one of four dentists in Yukon, and he started a dental screening program for school children.
Today, that program has grown, with 25 dentists involved in screening 1,300 first graders from Yukon and Piedmont schools.
They conducted many of the screenings Tuesday following a luncheon at the Yukon Public Schools boardroom.
“We’ve seen a big improvement over the years,” Deason, who still heads the program, said.
“It’s night and day. We don’t see the ‘bombed out’ mouths we saw then.”
It’s helped that Oklahoma City, which provides part of Yukon’s water, now adds fluoride to the water and that teachers emphasize dental health in the classroom, he said.
Students in Cheryl Drake’s classroom at Skyview Elementary School in Yukon were excited as they waited in line waiting for orthodontist Dr. Kolton Erickson to screen them – taking a quick look in their mouths from several angles.
When it was each student’s turn to open wide, Erickson put them at ease by asking, “Any questions?”
Only one student was hesitant, so Drake sat with her while she watched other screenings.
Soon, the reluctant student took her turn.
Erickson noted what he saw so that teachers and parents could follow up.
Most of the students’ teeth were clean as a whistle, but a couple of the kids had one or two obvious cavities.
Deason said that the screenings help students get comfortable interacting with a dentist.
“It’s a neat, fun environment,” he said.
While there’s no way to know how many of the students with cavities make it to the dentist, the screening are bound to help students feel more open to seeing a dentist, Deason said.
The Yukon-based dental screening program is the oldest and best organized one in the state, Deason said.
At the Yukon City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Michael McEachern presented a proclamation declaring February as Children’s Dental Health Month.
The mayor praised Deason.
“He has been a pioneer in this project,” McEachern said.
Area dentists also participate in the Give Kids a Smile program of the American Dental Association, which provides free dental care for needy children.
Deason recalls helping two sisters get both dental and orthdontal care in the past.
“Their mother grabbed me afterwards and said she could never tell me how much it meant to her,” he said. “It was a real tear-jerker.”

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